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RSM Clark and his Battalion's mascot
RSM CLark
and his Battalion's mascot
"Johnny Canuck"




Brigadier Hill presents RSM Clark to H.M. Queen Elizabeth
Brigadier Hill, right, presents RSM Clark to H.M. Queen Elizabeth, Aldershot, England May, 1944.
Paratrooper: The Story of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion's First Regimental Sergeant Major, by Col. Gary Rice (Ret.)
100 pages  ISBN: 0968169619

Many books about World War Two focus on the Big Battles and the Generals. PARATROOPER is about one man and one action. He is the first REGIMENTAL SERGEANT MAJOR of the 1st CANADIAN PARACHUTE BATTALION. This is the story of his life and death struggle on the Drop Zone on June 6, 1944.

The men of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion were Canada's first soldiers in France on D-Day! PARATROOPER vividly illustrates how the life of a professional Canadian soldier evolved between the years 1936 and 1944, and how he contributed to the development of Canada's first parachute battalion. PARATROOPER will let you share an unique Canadian battalion's baptism of fire on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

In PARATROOPER you will discover: * The origins of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, and how it became part of the British Army's 6th Airborne Division. * How young Canadian volunteers trained as paratroopers and mastered the deadly arts of war. * The importance of the battalion's D-Day mission, and its contribution to the success of the seaborne assault on the Normandy beaches. * What happens when things go wrong during a combat parachute drop. * How leadership, individual courage,  and teamwork led to the battalion's amazing achievements on D-Day. * How the battalion's top, non-commissioned officer, its Regimental Sergeant Major, lived the last fifteen days of his life, and how he met his fate. * A Canadian family confronting governmental blunders and coping with the loss of its only son.




On D-Day
June 6,1944
"... RSM Clark said: 'if you can't go on we will stay
with you'."

---Private Harvey C. Minor
1st Canadian Parachute Battalion
South River, Ontario,
June 6, 1999






55 years after D-Day
His Brigade Commander said:
"... I remember him so very well and held him in high regard. He was a splendid man and RSM, dignified, quiet but with a commanding presence -- in fact just what the Canadian Parachute Battalion wanted in that position. I much admired him... not only did he give his own life, but he made a great contribution to the preparation of his Battalion for battle and, as history now relates, they proved to be one of the great fighting battalions of World War II."

--Brigadier James Hill, DSO, MC,
Commander, 3rd British Parachute Brigade
Chichester, W. Sussex, England, May 12, 1999



At 1930 hours on Monday June 5, 1944 Regimental Sergeant Major Clark called for his company markers and formed up the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion for its last inspection on British soil. By 2300 hours he and his men were airborne. His battalion was embarked for France, and this was to be its first combat jump.

The RSM and the others with him in the C-47 Dakota exited into the darkness from their crippled transport at about 0115 hours on Tuesday, June 6, and shortly after he landed safely. But instead of being on Drop Zone V, he found himself many miles away, deep in enemy territory. The ground that lay between him and his rendezvous with the Battalion Headquarters at Le Mesnil Crossroad had been turned into a vast flood plain and marshland by the German defenders.


Paratrooper vividly reconstructs Mr. Clark's life as a professional soldier during the weeks prior to D-Day, and it retraces his steps from the time of his landing until he meets his fate. RSM Clark's story exemplifies the courage and sacrifice of an entire generation. Through its telling, others may better understand what their forebears have always known. Sometimes, the price of freedom and liberty must be paid in blood. Wendell James Clark's ultimate sacrifice to help preserve democracy drives home the full emotional impact of the Second World War on a family, and hence his story must never be forgotten.


The author, Colonel Gary H. Rice (Ret.) is a 37-year veteran of The Canadian Army Regular Force and The Canadian Armed Forces Land Element. He comes from a North American family with a long military tradition in both Canada and the United States. His carefully researched story of RSM Wendell James Clark's life accurately describes the events that shaped it, and the important role he played in preparing the men of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion for battle. Colonel Rice is also author of "From the Water's Edge" A Family's Journey From Massachusetts Bay Colony to Canada's Mississippi River Valley. If you are interested in soldiering, and want to learn more about an extraordinary warrant officer who helped build one of Canada's most courageous and respected wartime battalions, you will enjoy reading PARATROOPER.



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